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April 22, 2010

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Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina (29-8, 11-4 SEC) heads back on the road for a weekend SEC series at Georgia (12-25, 3-12 SEC) beginning on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Foley Field in Athens, Ga. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be televised live on CSS with the Sunday series finale a 2 p.m. start. All three games can also be heard on the Gamecock Radio Network and at

This week, South Carolina is ranked No. 5 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 10 by Baseball America and No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

Probable Starting Pitchers

South Carolina Blake Cooper (Sr. RHP) 7-0, 2.44 ERA, 62.2 IP, 21 BB, 57 SO
Georgia Justin Grimm (Jr. RHP) 2-5, 5.10 ERA, 47.2 IP, 22 BB, 45 SO

South Carolina Sam Dyson (Jr. RHP) 3-2, 5.04 ERA, 44.2 IP, 9 BB, 48 SO
Georgia TBA

South Carolina Jay Brown (Sr. RHP) 2-0, 3.60 ERA, 30.0 IP, 13 BB, 25 SO
Georgia TBA

South Carolina swept a three-game series at home last year vs. Georgia with victories of 7-2, 7-4 and 6-1 at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series history 52-46 as well.

In the series opener last year, Sam Dyson set a career-high with 13 strikeouts and hurled his second career complete game and Nick Ebert tallied two homers including a grand slam as South Carolina upended Georgia 7-2. Dyson was solid all night as he limited the Bulldogs to just two runs on two solo homers. He allowed just four hits on the evening. His 13 strikeouts are also the most by a Gamecock pitcher in a game this year. He walked just one. Dyson is now 8-4 on the year. Georgia starter Trevor Holder allowed six runs, three earned, on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks in 6.2 innings of work.

The second game of the series saw Gamecock starter Nolan Belcher not allow an earned run in 6.1 innings of work and strike out a career-high 11 batters and home runs by Nick Ebert and Justin Dalles for the second straight day as Carolina defeated Georgia 7-4.

Carolina then closed the series out with a sweep and a 6-1 win on Saturday. Ebert homered for the third consecutive day and finished the series batting 5-for-7 with four HR and 10 RBI. He also walked three times and was hit by pitch twice to reach base 10 times on the weekend. His RBI single in the bottom of the first gave Carolina a one-run lead and his solo home run in the bottom of the fourth gave Carolina a two-run cushion.

Carolina went with a predetermined split in the final game as right-handed Blake Cooper hurled two scoreless innings in the start to pick up a win. His start was followed up by a strong relief effort by right-hander Jay Brown. Brown kept the Bulldogs at bay with six innings of work allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Curtis Johnson closed the game out with one scoreless inning of work in the ninth to preserve Carolina’s victory. Georgia starting pitcher Justin Grimm lasted only 3.2 innings and yielded a pair of runs on four hits to suffer the loss.

South Carolina junior reliever Jose Mata hurled 4.2 scoreless innings of relief to pick up his third win of the year and freshman right-hander Ethan Carter pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save as South Carolina defeated USC Upstate 4-2 on Tuesday evening at Carolina Stadium.

With the score deadlocked at 2-2, the Gamecocks broke ahead by a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the frame with a single also connecting with a one-out base hit that put the runners on the corners. Nick Ebert came up big for Carolina then as he knocked a RBI double down the right field line scoring Bradley and giving the Gamecocks a one-run edge. That lead then increased to 4-2 as Marzilli score on Adrian Morales’ RBI sacrifice fly to center field.

The two-run lead was enough for the Gamecocks as Mata continued his stellar outing of relief. He allowed just two hits and struck out two batters in the victory. Mata is now 3-0 for the season and has a 1.54 ERA out of the pen after 16 appearances and 23.1 innings pitched. Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth struck out the only batter he faced and Carter closed out the ninth with a pair of strikeouts as he picked up his second save of the season.

South Carolina went 3-1 last week with a non-conference win at The Citadel on Wednesday night and two victories in three games in a weekend series vs. Ole Miss. The Gamecocks are now 28-8 on the year and 11-4 in SEC play. South Carolina leads the SEC Eastern Division by one game over Florida and is one game behind Arkansas in the conference race. The Gamecocks are the only SEC squad to have won all five of its conference series this year. Carolina has won eight consecutive SEC series dating back to last year.

The consecutive shutouts vs. Vanderbilt on Sunday and Friday vs. Ole Miss marks the first time since 2001 when Carolina has recorded back-to-back shutouts in SEC play. The Gamecocks have six shutouts on the year, that is the most recorded by a SEC team this year.

Carolina’s pitching staff continues to be among the top in the nation sporting a 3.27 ERA in 324.2 innings pitched. The squad’s ERA ranks first in the SEC with the squad leading the conference in opponents batting average allowing teams to be hitting at just a .214 clip on the year. Carolina also leads the Southeastern Conference with 353 strikeouts.

In SEC contests, Carolina leads the conference in ERA (2.98), opposing batting average (.218) and is second best in strikeouts (129).

Senior right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper tossed a complete game shutout with a four-hitter in the 5-0 win vs. nationally ranked Ole Miss on Friday, April 16. He is only the second SEC pitcher to record a complete game shutout this year and the first this season to do it in SEC play.

Cooper leads the SEC in victories and owns a 7-0 record with a 2.44 ERA. He has hurled 62.2 innings and allowed just 40 hits while striking out 57 and walking 21. Opponents are batting just .185 against him.

Cooper struck out a career-high 10 batters in the victory, his fifth complete game of his career but his first career complete game shutout. He allowed just four hits and one walk in the victory. The complete game shutout was the first by a Gamecock pitcher since Aaron Rawl on May 13, 2005 in a 2-0 win at Ole Miss. It was the second consecutive shutout by the Gamecocks in SEC play (Carolina defeated Vanderbilt 2-0 last Sunday). With the win, Cooper also passed Jason Haynie (1993-96) for the 10th on the all-time career victory list at Carolina with 28 career wins.

South Carolina Career Victories List    45  Kip Bouknight   1998-01        (45-12)    36  Tim Lewis   1973-76        (36-6)    35  Aaron Rawl  2002-05        (35-15)    34  Earl Bass   1972-75        (34-3)    34  Greg Ward   1972-75        (34-13)    31  David Marchbanks2001-03        (31-8)    31  Matt Threehouse 1989-93        (31-14)    31  Dennis Lubert   1979-82        (31-9)    30  Mike Cook   1983-85        (30-8)    28  Blake Cooper  2006-09        (28-12)

Junior Whit Merrifield continues to be one of the top bats in the Southeastern Conference. Merrifield had four hits in the weekend series vs. Ole Miss and has hit safely in 34 of 37 games this year for the Gamecocks. He is 15th all-time in the hits list at Carolina. He is the only Gamecock player to have started all 37 games this year. He is batting .333 (51-for-153) with seven HR and 24 RBI. He has a .411 on-base percentage. Merrifield is tied for third in the SEC in runs scored (43).

Earlier this year Merrifield set the school record for consecutive games with a hit. He hit safely in 26 straight games, 14 at the end of 2009 and the first 12 games of 2010.

Runs Scored    223 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98    215 Mike Curry  1996-97-98    212 Drew Meyer  2000-01-02    209 Mac White   1991-92-93-94    188 Justin Smoak  2006-07-08    182 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-93    181 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06    176 Landon Powell    2001-02-03-04    174 Garrett Carter  1985-86-87-88    168 Whit Merrifield    2008-09-10
Singles 209 Drew Meyer 2000-01-02 201 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06 198 Mac White 1991-92-93-94 191 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09 176 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98 172 Greg Jonson 1977-78-79-80 165 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-92 162 Mike Curry 1996-97-98 161 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10
Hits (200 or more) 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-94 299 Michael Campbell2003-04-05-06 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-02 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-04 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-98 262 Andrew Crisp 2005-06-07-08-09 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-98 246 Justin Smoak 2006-07-08 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-75 231 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-92 230 Skeets Thomas 1988-89-90 227 Jeff Barns 1985-86-87 225 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-93 224 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-84 219 Whit Merrifield 2008-09-10 215 Reese Havens 2006-07-08 211 Ryan Bordenick 1995-96-97-98 210 Garrett Carter 1985-86-87-88 209 Burke Cromer 1989-90-91-92 207 Jim Curl 1978-79-80-81 206 Greg Johnson 1977-78-79-80 203 Greg Morhardt 1982-83-84 201 Brian Buscher 2002-03

Freshman reliever Ethan Carter continues to put together stellar appearances out of the pen. He has not allowed a run in 13 of 14 relief appearances this season and owns a scoreless inning streak of 12 innings.

He tallied saves in each of his last two outings with a scoreless ninth inning in the 4-2 win over USC Upstate and he hurled 2.1 scoreless innings and picked up a save in the 9-5 win over Ole Miss on Saturday. Carter is now 1-0 with a 0.52 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched. He has 19 strikeouts and opponents are batting just .138 against him.

Freshman reliever Matt Price also had a pair of scoreless outings this weekend vs. Ole Miss. He has not allowed a run in SEC play and is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched. Price also has four saves. He has 39 strikeouts to just six walks with opponents batting just .146 against him for the season.

Price currently owns a scoreless inning streak of 14.2 innings. He has not allowed a run in 12 of 15 appearances on the year.

South Carolina has reached the halfway point in SEC play with an 11-4 conference record. Below is the record of South Carolina at the halfway point in SEC action under head coach Ray Tanner.

Year    Halfway Point   Second Half Rec.    Final SEC Record    SEC East Finish2010        11-4    N/A N/A N/A2009        7-8 10-5    17-13   2nd2008        9-6 6-9 15-15   5th2007        9-6 8-7 17-13   2nd2006        11-4    4-11    15-15   4th2005        9-6 7-8 16-14   2nd2004        7-8 10-5    17-13   2nd2003        7-8 12-4    19-11   1st2002        9-5 12-3    21-8    1st2001        8-7 9-6 17-13   3rd2000        12-3    13-2    25-5    1st1999        9-6 6-9 15-15   1st1998        10-4    9-6 19-10   2nd1997        7-8 6-9 13-17   4th

Junior right-hander Sam Dyson did not allow an earned run in 6.1 innings of work as South Carolina defeated Ole Miss 9-5 to clinch a weekend SEC baseball series at Carolina Stadium. He allowed five runs, all unearned, on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks. He has 48 strikeouts in 44.2 innings for Carolina this year.

Dyson’s victory vs. Ole Miss also helped him reach a milestone, as he became the 19th player in school history to reach 20 career wins. He is now 20-6 for his career with the Garnet & Black. Dyson is tied with Matt Campbell (20-12, 2002-04), Gary Bell (20-8, 2001-02) and Mark Calvert (20-7, 1980-83) for 16th on the all-time victories list at Carolina.

Freshman Christian Walker’s grand slam highlighted a seven-run second inning in the 9-5 win over Ole Miss on Saturday. He finished 2-for-4 in the victory at the plate. All nine position players recorded at least one hit in the game with the Gamecocks finishing with 16 in the game, the second highest total by the Gamecocks in a game at the plate this year. The last grand slam by a Gamecock player was Whit Merrifield on March 3, 2010 vs. Presbyterian. It was Walker’s first homer since the first weekend series vs. Duquesne.

Senior catcher Brady Thomas was 3-for-4 at the plate in Saturday’s win vs. Ole Miss with a double and a homer. He is hitting .333 (23-for-69) with 19 runs scored. 14 of his 23 hits on the year have been extra base hits (nine doubles, one triple, four homers). He has a .667 slugging percentage.

Junior infielder Adrian Morales has been a clutch hitter for the Gamecocks with 13 of his team-leading 29 RBIs coming with two outs. Morales cleared the bases with a three-run double with two outs in the 5-0 win over Ole Miss on Friday. He came back on Saturday with a career-high three hits in the 9-5 win over the Rebels.

Scott Wingo homered twice and drove in three runs and the Gamecocks pounded out nine hits on its way to a 10-4 victory over The Citadel on Wednesday evening at Joe Riley Park. Wingo also homered in Sunday’s loss to Ole Miss. He now leads the team with eight homers on the year. Wingo is batting .320 (32-for-100) for the season with eight HR and 24 RBIs. He has a .489 on-base percentage and a .640 slugging percentage.

Saturday’s attendance of 7,952 at Carolina Stadium as Carolina defeated Ole Miss 9-5 was the second highest single-game attendance at Carolina Stadium this year. South Carolina has a total attendance of 147,782 for an average of 6,425 fans per contest.

South Carolina is 12-5 in games decided by three runs or less. Carolina is 25-1 for the season when leading entering the top of the seventh inning. South Carolina is also 19-2 for the season when scoring first in a game. In other superlatives, the Gamecocks are 23-3 when out-hitting its opponent and 27-4 for the season when allowing five runs or less.

The 4-2 win over USC Upstate featured junior right-hander Jose Mata, who worked 4.2 scoreless innings of relief in the victory. The Gamecock reliever kept the team in the game with 4.2 scoreless innings of relief and just four hits allowed. Mata is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA on the year in 15 appearances. He has pitched 18.2 innings and opponents are batting just .203 against him for the year. His scoreless innings streak is at 12.2 right now.

Sophomore left-hander Michael Roth is tied for fifth in the SEC in appearances with 18 for the season. Roth struck out the lone batter he faced in Tuesday’s win vs. USC Upstate. He also retired the lone batter he faced in the 3-2 win at Vanderbilt and got a double play against Vandy in the 2-0 win as well. He has a 2.38 ERA and three saves in 11.1 innings pitched with 13 strikeouts. He has not allowed a run in 14 of 18 appearances for the year.

Roth has also been a left-handed bat for the Gamecocks with eight plate appearances including a home run this year.

South Carolina senior right-hander Jay Brown was SEC Pitcher of the Week after a 2-0 win at Vanderbilt. In his second career SEC start, Brown pitched a season-high 6.1 innings and combined with relievers Michael Roth and Matt Price to face the minimum in the win over nationally ranked Vanderbilt to help the Gamecocks clinch the rubber game of a three-game SEC series.

Brown did not walk a batter and allowed just two singles. He also did not allow a batter to get past second base in the entire outing. It was the third longest outing in Brown’s career at Carolina. Brown, Roth and Price finished with a two-hit shutout, the first time since 2005 that Vanderbilt had been shutout at home in an SEC game. The loss was only Vanderbilt’s third of the season at home.

Brown is 2-0 on the year and owns a 3.60 ERA in 30.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting just .221 against him.

Depth has been a key ingredient for the Gamecocks this year. For the season, South Carolina has used 33 different starting lineups in 37 games. In addition, 13 different pitchers have accounted for the 29 victories on the year. Also, 16 position players have been in the starting lineup at least once this season.

Junior Parker Bangs was 2-for-3 with two runs vs. College of Charleston and had a key three-run homer in the 14-2 win over Mississippi State. For the season, he is bating .314 (11-for-35) with three HR and 13 RBI. Bangs also has 19 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched on the mound in a relief role.

Having recovered from a couple of injuries, sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has also been a key part of the Gamecock lineup. Bradley is batting .318 (34-for-107) on the year with a pair of HR and 15 RBI as well as 23 runs scored.

Senior first baseman/designated hitter Nick Ebert has been more productive at the plate in the last couple weeks as he has raised his batting average to .294 (25-for-85) for the season. He also is tied for the team lead with 24 walks on the year and owns a .461 on-base percentage.